Tuesday 21 May
Lords and ladies (Arum maculatum)
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Lords and ladies fact file
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Lords and ladies description
Wild arum or lords and ladies (just one of this abundant plant’s local names), has a striking appearance when in flower. From amongst the shiny-green, black-speckled, arrow-shaped leaves, arises a tall slender cowl. This opens on one side to reveal a slender purple spike. This ‘spadix’ is the true flower of the wild arum, and it gave rise to another of the plant’s local names ‘cuckoo pint’. This derives from the time of the flower’s appearance – usually with the first cuckoos – whilst ‘pint’ (once pronounced to rhyme with ‘mint’) is an Old English slang for ‘pintle’, meaning penis.
- Also known as
- cuckoo pint, wild arum.
- Height: 30 – 50 cm
- Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
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Lords and ladies biology
Lords and ladies flowers in April through to May, and is a perennial, growing from a tuber underground. In autumn, it produces a cluster of dark orange berries grouped together at the top of a stem.
Wild arum is poisonous and it is better to avoid contact with it. However, in earlier times, the roots were used as a substitute for arrowroot although it has a bitter taste. The roots were more commonly used as a source of starch for collars and ruffs, even though the toxic juice left the poor laundresses’ hands terribly blistered.Top
Lords and ladies range
Lords and ladies is very common across most of the British Isles, being absent only from North Scotland. It also occurs frequently in Europe.Top
Lords and ladies habitat
This species is found in woods and along shaded ditches and hedgerows on calcareous soil.Top
Lords and ladies status
Very common in the UKTop
Lords and ladies threats
Lords and ladies is a very common plant and not considered at threat.Top
Lords and ladies conservation
As this species is common across most of its range, there are currently no conservation programmes associated with it.Top
Information supplied by English Nature.
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